YORK City manager Gary Mills has challenged his side to capitalise on a night off for Blue Square Bet Premier play-off rivals Kidderminster Harriers.

The Midlands club, who have taken 20 points from a possible 24, currently occupy the fifth place Mills covets for his side but are without a match tonight while City play host to Gateshead – another in-form team.

City are nine points behind Kidderminster but have played three fewer games and Mills’ men go into tonight’s clash with the rare knowledge that a win will guarantee the shortening of the gap to the top five.

Speaking of his desire to move within six points of the Harriers, who travel to fellow play-off hopefuls Luton on Saturday, Mills, pictured, said: “Knowing a win will mean we definitely close the gap is a big incentive. We all know the score and all know we have games in hand.

“Like Gateshead, Kidderminster have been on a fantastic run and that shows how well we have done and how far we have come to still be in there with a shout so, when they are not playing, we have to try to capitalise.

“Without putting pressure on my players to get three points from every game, we all know what’s needed and to pick up three points tonight would certainly be a massive move towards where we want to be.”

Winger Peter Till will be available again after recovering from the illness that struck him down before Saturday’s 2-1 win at Hayes and Yeading United.

But midfielder Levi Mackin (thigh) is still unavailable and centre-back David McGurk’s foot problem will not have cleared in time either.

Mills added: “This match has come a bit too soon for David McGurk but we’re hoping he will be back in training by the end of the week and available for Barrow on Saturday.

“If it became any longer, then there’s a possibility we’d recall Greg Young from his loan spell at Altrincham or I might have to bring somebody else in.”

The Minstermen chief also confessed Gateshead’s transformation from relegation candidates to play-off outsiders following seven successive wins in February had taken him by surprise.

While believing Ian Bogie’s men will come to Bootham Crescent in buoyant mood, he pointed to his own team’s home form as a reason for optimism.

City have racked up five consecutive league victories in front of their own fans with Mills saying: “Gateshead probably wouldn’t have seen their current run coming, so I certainly didn’t but they have brought two or three loan players in and they have shown what’s possible if you put a great run together.

“They have moved up the table and will come here with a lot of confidence but our home form has been very good in general too since I came here.

“We’ve got nine home games and five away matches left, so our home results are going to be vital in trying to get us where we want to be.”

Along with Till, top scorer Michael Rankine will be pushing for a recall, having climbed off the bench to score the winning goal at Hayes after Leon Constantine had been preferred in the starting line-up.

“I always have big decisions to make when most of the players are fit and I’m not afraid to make changes if I need to,” Mills added. “I will pick the best team to go and beat Gateshead in my opinion and, as always, the players will have to accept that.”

On-loan Leeds United midfielder Will Hatfield will be hoping to retain his place after making his full debut for the Minstermen against Hayes.

His current one-month deal is due to come to an end after the Gateshead clash but Mills has already indicated he would like to retain the 19-year-old until the end of the season, saying: “If we can extend his stay, I will be looking to do that because he’s a good footballer and I love his winning attitude.

“He’s good on the ball and, while he’s not the biggest player in the world, he’s tenacious and has good energy levels.”

• CITY will now play host to Eastbourne a week on Saturday.

The Minstermen had been due to entertain Luton Town the night before but the Hatters will be in FA Trophy semi-final action that weekend, so City have brought the Eastbourne game forward from March 29.

Luton will visit Bootham Crescent on Tuesday, April 19.